If you don't know the difference between a realtor and a real estate agent then here's your chance to find out.
The terms realtor and real estate agent have been commonly used interchangeably when referring to people dealing with real estate matters. This is incorrect. Although both are licensed to deal with real estate, the former is a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) while the latter isn’t one.
The trademarked word ‘realtor’ by the NAR refers to people who have agreed to abide by the NAR's strict code of ethics and standards of practice. It is what separates them from non-member real estate agents including property manager, home appraisers, and real estate brokers.
The Code of Ethics is a NAR program consisting of 17 articles in which realtors are obligated to strictly follow. These are the following:
- Pledge to put the interests of buyers and sellers ahead of their own and to treat all parties honestly.
- Shall refrain from exaggerating, misrepresenting or concealing material facts; and is obligated to investigate and disclose when situations reasonably warrant.
- Shall cooperate with other brokers / agents when it is in the best interests of the client to do so.
- Have a duty to disclose if they represent family members who own or are about to buy real estate, or if they themselves are a principal in a real estate transaction, that they are licensed to sell real estate.
- Shall not provide professional services in a transaction where the agent has a present or contemplated interest without disclosing that interest.
- Shall not collect any commissions without the seller's knowledge nor accept fees from a third-party without the seller's express consent.
- Shall refuse fees from more than one party without all parties' informed consent.
- Shall not co-mingle client funds with their own.
- Shall attempt to ensure that all written documents are easy to understand and will give everybody a copy of what they sign.
- Shall not discriminate in any fashion for any reason on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin.
- Expects agents to be competent, to conform to standards of practice and to refuse to provide services for which they are unqualified.
- Must engage in truth in advertising.
- Shall not practice law unless they are a lawyer.
- Shall cooperate if charges are brought against them and present all evidence requested.
- Agree not to bad mouth competition and agree not to file unfounded ethics complaints.
- Shall not solicit another REALTOR'S client nor interfere in a contractual relationship.
- Shall submit to arbitration to settle matters and not seek legal remedies in the judicial system.
To get a license as a real estate agent, an individual must comply with the requirements set by the state where he/she wishes to work in with. This includes getting a real estate-related education from an accredited college, university or technical school as well as completing the official exam and payment of annual license fee.
Getting a license as a realtor or being a member of NAR, on the other hand, means taking another online course on the ethics code and then passing another exam. And then, they are sworn to uphold the abovementioned code of ethics or in other words, never to withhold information or mislead the client or even other real estate agents that are involved in the transaction.
Part of the privilege of becoming a realtor is that he/she can count on the good reputation of the organization to get home buyers or sellers to put their trust in them. The idea is that consumers will choose to deal with a professional who has sworn to treat all parties fairly and honestly.
Buying or selling your hard-earned property can be a difficult process for you. It is important to know who you’re dealing with in order to get the most out of the experience.